Comic Book Review: Serenity: "Those Left Behind" (2005)
Serenity: "Those Left Behind" (2005)
Serenity mini-series issues 1-3. Story: Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, Script: Brett Matthews, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Laura Martin. Published by Dark Horse Comics in 2005.
Rating: T for Teen
Summary: The ragtag crew of Serenity take on a scavenger mission with the hopes of earning enough dough to disappear for a while. Only too late do they realize the whole gig is orchestrated by an old enemy eager to re-make their acquaintance with the help of some covert-operatives known only as the Blue Gloves.
Released by Dark Horse Comics to help promote the Serenity movie, this three part mini-series bridges the time that occurs between the final episode of Firefly and the feature film. While the movie plays well to those who had never seen the TV show, the same can not be said for this series, which is clearly being marketed to fans. Which makes sense. I'm not sure if a lot of non-Firefly fans would be interested in a three-issue mini-series based on the characters of the show, unless one was interested in seeing the movie and picked up the issues as a primer. If you do come into this series unfamiliar with the show, I'd imagine the first issue might be difficult to follow. The reader is plunged right into the middle of the action, with no introduction into the characters or the concept of the series. There's no exposition dialogue to explain the past storylines that would help make the action and subtext make sense. I think by the second issue, though, a new reader would have a handle on who all the characters are and a rough idea of their role, at least enough of an understanding to follow the series and get interested in seeing the movie.
For fans, the series is perfect. No clunky exposition, quick pacing, and the banter you remember from the series. The characterisations in the books are dead-on, which is to be expected given Joss Whedon's involvement with the series. The artwork is also impressive, capturing each of the actors' likenesses very well. The result of the dialogue, characterisations, and art is that one hears the actors' voices in their head while reading the book. The whole thing is a natural progression from the show, so if you were a fan of the show, you should enjoy the book.
The best thing I can say about the mini is that it plays like a lost episode of the series. This could easily be the fifteenth episode, picking up from where the last one left off, with the crew still on the run, the blue gloves after River, and Inara wanting off Serenity. The tension between Mal and Inara is still unresolved, the romance between Kaylee and Simon is still stilted, and, delightfully, Jayne is still a buffoon. The story follows the blue gloves' pursuit of River, bridging into what seems to be the plot of the movie. It also brings back Agent Dobson from the pilot episode, who was left for dead by Captain Reynolds and the crew, but it turns out, he's not so dead. And he's more than a little pissed at Mal for shooting him in the head (ain't that always the way).
Ultimately, the mini-series is a great look at the characters and the story for fans. It's a fun read by itself, and the perfect way to whet one's appetite for the film. I'm not sure it has much to offer for non-fans, but might be worth checking out for a comic book fan that is considering seeing the movie but is unfamiliar with Firefly. Check out the link at the bottom for a five page preview of the first issue.
Serenity at Dark Horse Comics